The dark side of social media is exposed in the new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, a former Google employee, articulates a fundamental issue — “the existential threat to society isn’t the technology itself, but its ability to bring out the worst in society.”
The Business Model
The documentary explores how the Internet’s most popular products work. The only reason these social media apps are free is that their endgame is to sell and if you aren’t buying, chances are you are the product.
“Using Your Psychology Against You.”
A basic business model of tracking users’ behavior as DATA. In order to sell ads, information, services, people, and products in a vicious cycle.
This is more than just a media issue. It is an extension of our society. Those with abundant resources systematically flood the medium. Using seed accounts for Propaganda, leaving only an insignificant slice free for independent voices.
“Fake News Spreads 6 Times Faster Than Truth.” Tristan Harris
Seed accounts are profiles that overwhelm a platform. With specific content through their networks. To clarify by manipulating information. The resourceful enjoy their power to steer a discourse. While the individual voice online, even if free, is cluttered.
How many times have you had a conversation about something and then post, and products appear of those very things.? Scary right.?
The truth is that Facebook has come under fire for spying on its users. Something we inadvertently sign onto. When we download any social media app, we are first asked to give permission. To use our microphone and have access to our cameras. Even our location.
Research has effectively demonstrated how damaging excessive social media can be to our mental health. How so.? Well, imagine being bombarded by an aspirational lifestyle. Images of the rich and famous living their manufactured and artificial beauty. Perfect bodies, relationships, and happiness. Then you compare what you see every day to your “normal” life, which is lacking in everything that you desire.
Why are we so attached to our mobile phones? Unable to help ourselves?
Apps like Facebook and Instagram have special algorithms that study a person’s profile and behavior. In order to predict what that person likes based on the things they post. Or the kind of photos they like. Furthermore, these algorithms are so advanced that they can predict your mood. Make suggestions for you accordingly in the form of posts and products.
“The answer is we are being conditioned. ”
Therefore, it isn’t a coincidence that you see pictures and posts that engage you. The apps are designed that way to keep you busy.
Deepika Padukone vs Dark Side
Take the case of the movie Chhapaak. The actor’s much-publicized visit to a University. Expressing solidarity with students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Soon after Deepika’s visit, #BoycottChhapaak started trending on Twitter. Accusing the filmmakers of giving the lead character, on whom the movie is, a ‘false’ identity.
A fake claim spread through anonymous twitter accounts as reported in media. Seed accounts also followed by none other than Prime Minister Of India Narendra Modi. That is to say, politically influencing the superstar and her movie’s fate. Prior to its release.
The Dark Side
Among the many issues, The Social Dilemma touches on include how tech companies have influenced elections, ethnic violence, and rates of depression and suicide. In short,
Chaos! Who knows what’s next?
To sum up. Now that you know there’s a dark side to social media. Let’s begin to take more control of our lives and not let the algorithms control us as they have been doing.
Photo Credits Unsplash | The blog is also available for our Medium Readers
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